Remembering lives lost to accidental overdoses
By Dunn Daily Record
SMITHFIELD – A Benson mother, who lost her daughter to a drug-induced homicide in 2021, is holding a Community Awareness Event on the dangers of fentanyl on Sunday, Oct. 8, at Smith Collins Park in Smithfield.
The noon to 4 p.m. event will feature free food, music, resources for how to get help and how to help others battling addiction, education on the deadly drug, speakers and children’s activities. There is no cost to attend.
Michiko’s Voice will be held in memory of 23-year-old Michiko La’Deja Duff. She was sitting in a Selma hotel room on Jan. 26, 2021, when she ingested cocaine laced with fentanyl and immediately died.
Her body was found 24 hours later.
Within a matter of seconds, the 23-year-old left behind a 5-year-old daughter and a family that has struggled to find answers.
Law enforcement initially ruled Michiko’s death as an accidental overdose.
An autopsy report revealed her body had 29 milligrams of fentanyl, enough to kill an entire baseball stadium full of fans.
The family considers it murder.
Mitchiko Duff, Michiko’s mother, works with the JoCo Angels, a support group promoting opioid awareness.
The group speaks with students in the Johnston County School system and explains the dangers associated with drug use.
“We have to stand for the next generation,” she told the Record in 2022. “Kids left behind [from overdose deaths], are anyone talking to them? Are they telling them the truth about what is going on?
“It’s not a time to be silent. It’s a time for all man to come together and stand against this thing.”
Sixty-four people died of drug overdoses in Johnston County in 2022, 10 less than its highest number of deaths recorded at 74 the year Michiko died. The state lost 3,875 people to overdoses last year.